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[casi] Getting out of Iraq's chaos: Statement on Iraq by Mr Nino Sergi, SG of INTERSOS

21 Nov 2003

Getting out of Iraq's chaos: Statement on Iraq by Mr Nino Sergi, SG of

These are days of great consternation, sorrow and mourning for the victims
of Nassiriya. Days which brought more lucidity to our understanding of the
Iraqi's harsh reality with its growing number of victims, Italians, other
Western countries' but most of all Iraqis. It would probably be appropriate
to observe silence a bit longer, as we did since that tragic morning, but
events do not allow.
The victims, all the victims, those who were and those who are unfortunately
yet to come, force us into shortening our meditation to contribute some
analysis and proposals. We feel this is our duty, considering the strong
presence of INTERSOS in Iraq with still 23 international staff posted
throughout the country and working in various areas of interventions, and
the link of solidarity which binds us to the local population.

In September already, after the attack on the UN headquarters and the Mosque
in Najaf, in a press-release entitled "Getting out of Iraq's chaos" and
issued on Reliefweb, we had provided evaluations and indications which we
still hold valid. We would like to apply these to the actual context, taking
into account the recent decisions of the international community.

1. The Iraqis. The population needs help. The war, and most of all its
aftermath, has worsened the social and economic situation. People are
suffering; many are unemployed and their relatives have difficulties living;
thefts and banditry have increased resulting in additional insecurity and
fear. The measures adopted by the Coalition are insufficient, slow, late,
often mistaken, lacking strategy, and contradictory. The Iraqis feel left
out. Not only the hundreds of thousand members of the Baath party and the
armed forces, automatically excluded with a senseless and counterproductive
determination, but also those called to fill in positions of responsibility
(now and then appointed by local communities) suffering from their absolute
subordination to the Coalition's decisions, feeling colonised and powerless.
Dissatisfaction is growing. Even the Iraqis' increasing awareness that -
even by collaborating with the occupying forces - it is necessary to put an
end to terrorism which affects everything and everyone, creating
instability, indiscriminate death, insecurity, and poverty is weakening: for
fear of or distrust in the support and actual capacity and will of the
international community. Generally however people live, longing to
reconstruct, re-start, work for a new country: not subject to abandonment or
disillusion. However the time left to demonstrate them our commitment is
really now very little.

2. The Occupying forces and allies. The new awakening to the difficulty of
(and the mistakes committed by) the Coalition can now give way to those
decisions which, had they been taken at the right time, could have marked a
different path for Iraq. It is also perhaps, as we hope, the end of
arrogance. That is to say, the end of the faith in the military force as a
means to resolve international disputes including terrorism, for the
export-import of democracy and, after all, for the defence of national
interests; the end of the negation of the supremacy of the politics and of
the intolerance towards allies' diverting opinions; the end of the
overbearing conviction of one's self-sufficiency and of the depreciation of
the role of the multilateral political bodies especially the UN.

3. The UN. After denying its role, humiliating the only existing universal
political institution, the Coalition has later on acknowledged, after the
war, its "vital" role which, according to Resolution 1511 is to be
"reinforced". This ambiguity is today overcome by the new reality which
requires even greatly a neutral leadership for the transitional phase, that
is to say, unconnected with the conflict and the occupation; a leadership
which only a multilateral organisation such as the UN can guarantee, despite
the difficulties and deficiencies it holds. The Institution must certainly
be reformed and rapidly so, in particular with regard to the composition of
the Security Council, increased participation should be granted to the
Muslim World today unequally diminished, and transparency and democracy
should be improved. Despite its many limits and deficiencies - and maybe
thanks to them - the UN appears today in Iraq as indispensable and

INTERSOS' attention is devoted to the population and its well-being and
founds its analysis and action on the fundamental principles of independence
and impartiality. Certain aspects seem now clear to us, even if difficult to
accomplish, considering the worsening situation. War was a serious mistake,
just as was the management of its aftermath, however it would be as great an
error abandoning the Iraqis to their own fate supporting the withdrawal of
troops, fair and therefore shareable as a position of principle, but not
feasible without a valid, simultaneous and as much shareable political

1. The political management of the Iraqi crisis must surpass the military
management, through decisions rapidly taken and implemented and with maximum
internal and international consent, starting from that of the countries of
the region.

2. The UN, reassessed and politically re-enforced, is to regain its
fundamental role in the political and economic pacification and
reconstruction of the country. With the consent of the Iraqi people, the UN
is entrusted with the definition of the mandate, the scope and the title of
the peacekeeping command forces. It is also entrusted with the planning and
co-ordination of the humanitarian and reconstruction relief.

3. Soon - and not by next June - a provisional Iraqi Government must be
constituted entrusted with effective power and autonomy, representing all
political and religious components, supported by the international community
financially as well as in the setting up, and reinforcement of its new
institutions, thereby isolating the forces friendly to Saddam Hussein or to
the international terrorism. With a view to developing new civil and
military institutions, all available Iraqi capabilities and forces must be
gathered, without any political discrimination.

4. We have considered the military occupation as illegitimate, equally
opposed by the majority of Iraqis. The withdrawal of military forces should
therefore be carried out as an act of reparation and change in the eyes of
the Iraqis and the international community. However, it can only take place
as a result of a valid, careful, and shared political strategy defined by
the UN, with full participation of regional States and the transitional
Iraqi Authority, which will also define the composition and the mandate of
the necessary peacekeeping and security force. Otherwise banditry, plunder,
revenge, disorder and overpowering will multiply to the detriment of the
civilian population and the spectrum of a bloody civil war could become

5. Europe and Italy. If the hope of getting out of the Iraqi chaos remains,
it is also dependent on Europe's commitment. Italy holds the presidency of
the Council of Europe; it decided to join the Coalition forces from the
start; it also suffered human losses. It is therefore in a privileged
position to urge the will of a Europe which has not yet successfully been
expressed in the framework of a frank and loyal confrontation with the USA.
The Italian presidency should immediately put forward a European initiative,
building up on that of France and Germany; to re-launch the role of the UN
in Iraq and to involve the countries of the Middle-Eastern region.

Although acting with the necessary caution and evaluating everyday the
reality in which it operates, INTERSOS remains in Iraq as long as the
conditions will permit and its operators will feel safe. We feel it is our
duty, not because it is required of us, unconsciously and inconsiderately,
by the governments of the Coalition (thereby imperilling our presence which
must be and appear fully independent and impartial), but to pursue our pact
of solidarity with the Iraqi population who remains our sole and best
security guarantee.

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